Canada is closing its borders to noncitizens because of the coronavirus pandemic, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted that the ban does not apply to U.S. citizens “for the moment.”
“We can still slow the spread of this virus,” Trudeau said at a press conference at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, where he announced the border closing.
“It is time to take every precaution to keep people safe.”
Canada will make some exceptions to the border closure. And the ban does not affect the shipment of goods into the country.
Trudeau’s announcement came hours after the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, proposed a ban on nonessential, incoming foreign travel for one month in the European Union.
“We will be denying entry to Canada to people who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents,” Trudeau said.
“This measure will carve out some designated exceptions, including for air crews, diplomats, immediate family members of Canadian citizens and, at this time, U.S. citizens.”
Trudeau said the exemption for U.S. citizens was warranted because of “the level of integration of our two economies.”
“I know that these measures are far reaching. They are exceptional circumstances, calling for exceptional measures,” he said.
Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gregoire, tested positive for COVID-19 last week.
Trudeau has no symptoms, but has been in isolation since last week as a precautionary measure.
There have been nearly 340 reported cases of coronavirus in Canada, with one death related to the virus.
Trudeau said that Canadians who are traveling outside of the country currently should return “while it is still possible to do so.”
“Let me be clear, if you’re abroad, it’s time to come home,” Trudeau said.
And, he noted, “If you’ve just arrived, you must self-isolate for 14 days.”
“Anyone who has symptoms will not be able to enter Canada.”
Only four airports in Canada will accept international flights: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.
Trudeau’s announcement came as U.S.-based airlines sought federal assistance of more than $50 billion to help them deal with the hit to their bottom lines from the coronavirus outbreak.
— Additional reporting by Kevin Breuninger.